Jennifer Boone couldn’t even touch her toes when she began practicing yoga in high school. Now in her senior year at A&M, Boone teaches classes at a local studio and said yoga is more than just a job — it’s a release from the stressors of daily life.
After noticing the small yoga community her freshman year at A&M, Boone decided to take a yoga teacher training. Boone was a full-time student and on the weekends drove back and forth to Dallas every weekend to complete her certification.
“I made a lot of sacrifices to be able to make it there every other weekend, and I saved a lot of money to pay for it, but it was all worth it,” Boone said. “The other hard thing was the transition from being in a super yogi peaceful mood from practicing all weekend to coming back to College Station and not being able to practice yoga with anyone until I went back to Dallas.”
Boone, who teaches at Yoga Pod, said she felt there was a growing yoga culture in College Station and said she is excited to contribute to that.
“When I got to College Station I couldn’t find many places to take yoga, so I figured I would be a little watering hole in the yoga desert,” Boone said.
Since her freshman year, Boone has managed to gain almost another two hundred hours of training in Dallas, Houston and Washington D.C., which has helped her develop her style as a teacher.
“Style comes from the teachers that you’ve studied under for teacher training, but also from the teachers that you practice with,” Boone said. “So my style is largely based on Prana Flow yoga, which was originated by Shiva Rae.”
Boone said Rae developed Prana Flow yoga to emulate the oceans and surf style of her native California.
“So your breath is like a wave, and your breath guides your movements,” Boone said. “It’s all like this pulsation wave movement where you’re connecting everything, and there are all these fluid movements.”
Boone said she incorporates power yoga into her classes as part of her personal style, which she said helps draw in more people.
However, Boone said she tries to create an atmosphere in her classes where people aren’t focused on what they look like.
“The risk that you run in creating a yoga culture is that it can so easily go from ‘real’ yoga to ‘what I wear, what I look like, do I have a six pack’ type of yoga, and that’s not good for anybody,” Boone said.
Boone said she tries to be sensitive the needs and abilities of her students, who range from fellow students to professionals who are older than Boone.
“I think the key to being a good yoga teacher is offering modifications,” Boone said. “So maybe if people have never stepped on a mat before, they can come into a class and feel successful doing the exact same pose as somebody else.”
Maury Porter, elementary education senior, took classes from Boone and said her yoga practice was never a static process.
“She grew every time she taught a class,” Porter said. “She would challenge herself more and more to learn and improve,” Porter said.
Abby Watkins, animal science senior was introduced to yoga when she and Boone became roommates. She has now been practicing yoga for about two years.
“There are a ton of health benefits,” Watkins said. “Mostly for me it’s mental over physical. If I feel really stressed out, it calms me down. But physically, it works every single muscle in your body.”
Boone said yoga is “practice for living.”
“When I practice a hard pose or a sequence that I struggle through, it teaches me that if I breathe through the hard parts on my mat, I can breathe through the hard parts of life,” Boone said. “Yoga helps me deal with anxieties and social pressures that inevitably come with being a college student, especially a college girl. Yoga teaches me that I should love and accept my body for everything it does for me and not berate myself for how I look or what I can’t do.”
Boone encourages anyone who might be interested to try yoga because of the health benefits, but also because of the ways it has helped her grow on a personal level.
“I’d love to see more students learn how to cope with stress and find self-love,” Boone said. “You don’t necessarily get that at the Rec or at a gym. You look around and everyone looks perfect. But at a yoga studio you have all shapes and sizes and a huge theme in yoga is that anyone can do it. Anybody is worthy and perfect just as they are. There isn’t any competition or expectation. I think especially among college-age girls we need more of that.”
Boone said she feels that people can be intimidated by the idea of walking into a yoga class, but she encourages people to keep trying new classes.
“Find the class that you like,” Boone said. “Not every teacher teaches the same, so don’t give up after trying it once. The thing that I hear the most is ‘I’m not flexible enough to do yoga’ that’s not true. You go to yoga to become flexible and strong and whatever else. But there’s no reason to write off a yoga class because you’re not flexible. If everyone started out yoga flexible then there would be no need for yoga.”